Friday, December 14, 2012

Foles could struggle vs Bengals pass D

Bengals Matchup to Watch: BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs Eagles run defense
Over the last four games, Green-Ellis has had five rushes for at least 20 yards (tied for the most in the NFL with the Eagles' Bryce Brown). Prior to that, he had only six such rushes combined in his previous 62 games.

Green-Ellis has pinballed off defenders with much success recently. His 197 yards after contact over the last four games rank second in the NFL behind Adrian Peterson’s standard-setting 288.

It’s hard to tell which way the Eagles will go in stopping Green-Ellis.

The Eagles defense has allowed an average of two yards after contact per running play. That’s the fifth-highest rate in the NFL. However, they’ve been much better the last four games, yielding only 1.4 yards per carry.

Eagles Matchup to Watch: Nick Foles vs Bengals pass rush
The Bengals have been able to do a lot against opposing quarterbacks recently without sending a massive pass rush.

The chart on the right compares the Bengals pass rush through their first eight games to their last five games.

The Bengals had success against one NFC East quarterback with this rush, sitting back and picking off New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning twice while still managing to sack him three times.

But Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo did a good job against them last week, completing 18-of-25 throws for 178 yards and a touchdown.

The touchdown is the only one the Bengals have given up with four or fewer pass rushers in the last five games.

Foles has been alright against that sort of pass rush, completing a modest 64 percent of his passes, with three touchdowns and only one interception in 132 attempts.

Stats of the Game
The first quarter could be key for the Eagles defense. The Bengals have scored a touchdown during the first quarter in each of their last five games, tying a franchise record. Cincinnati had two previous streaks of five straight games with an opening-quarter touchdown (in 1988 and 1990), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Foles notched the first victory of his career on Sunday when he led the Eagles over the Buccaneers. With another triumph, Foles would become the sixth rookie quarterback to win at least two games this season. That would be the most rookie quarterbacks with at least two wins in a season over the last 60 years, according to Elias.

The Bengals are 7-3-1 all-time against the Eagles. Their .682 winning percentage is the best by any team that has played the Eagles at least five times.

But keep in mind that the Eagles almost always finish strong.

Under Andy Reid (who became coach in 1999), the Eagles are 39-16 in December. That is the second-best December record in the NFL during that span behind the Patriots’ 46-10 mark.

Holly Sampson Jamie Lynn

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